Door (1988) ★★★★ Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Door (1988) ★★★★ Brooklyn Horror Film Festival

Door is a film that takes its time; it lures you in, and then bang, it explodes into this weird and wonderful piece of violence, unlike anything you could imagine. You will wonder how and why you were not made aware of it earlier.

After several strangely threatening calls from local salesman Yamakawa (Daijirô Tsutsumi), homemaker Yasuko (Keiko Takahashi) becomes increasingly afraid to answer her apartment door.

Door goes on as you would expect: a creepy man has made himself familiar with the life of a single woman and is making sure that she is fully aware of how much he wants her undivided attention with his increasingly threatening intrusions into her life. Slowly, the film’s intensity builds until we reach that final act, and it almost becomes an entirely different film. But what makes that finale work as well as it does is the fact that we fall in love with Yasuko and her family; there is a joyous spark between the three of them that has you smiling. So when she is alone and alienated as her husband is out of town, your fear for her is real.

It is a film that is the epitome of a slow burn, it takes its time for the first 40 minutes to get going, slowly but surely though, that tension is getting felt. The relentless nature of Yamakawa has Yasuka and the audience trapped in her own home. You are on constant watch and in appartment living, this is amplified even more. Nowhere exactly feels safe.

There is one moment when the film clicks into that next gear, and you know it has you by the scruff of your neck. Yasuko is listening to one of Yamakawa’s calls, and suddenly, he starts singing a song, not just any song. But one that he should specifically know about is how important it is to Yasuko. The once strong face of our heroine suddenly drops, and immediately, we are aware that Door has ramped up to a dangerous point. From then onwards, the film becomes a tornado, as mentioned, almost like a new film. Once Yamakawa, after he has gained forced entry into the apartment, discovers there is no husband due home, he has a wicked smirk that forces everything in your stomach to drop.

The danger and fear you feel for Yasuko is at an incredible level. We, sadly, are nearly certain of his intentions. As the violence soon begins, you realise there are still around 30 minutes left in the film. At one point, you think the film is peaking far too early, but it just keeps going in a brutally violent manner that almost knocks you out of your chair.

Takahashi is virtually the epitome of restrained for the first hour of the film. Nothing really strikes at you, however soon you realise that was all the point. We were meant to be lured into this little world, into this apartment to know almost exactly where each room is. Here and there we have the odd flourish with the camera, yet, it is in that finale where it all becomes so gloriously alive. In that finale it is not just the actions on screen that are violent and unexpected. Takahashi has left plenty up his sleeve for us, acuminating with one fantastic scene.

Door gives away with the fact that the apartment is a set with the bird’s eye view of the apartment, but you forgive it because the scene is so exhilarating. As Yasuko rushes around trying to get away from Yamakawa while also trying to defend herself, you feel almost dizzy from it all. But that is all on purpose; we are meant to feel the utter chaos of the moment, and by having it as one continuous shot, it feels all the more real. Banmei Takahashi has outdone himself here.

Keiko Takahashi is brilliant as our lonely Yasuko. Her arc is a wonder to watch as she starts off as this almost meek character who tidies after her husband and does all the chores like a “good wife should”. But damn, by the film’s end, she becomes a woman who will not rest until she knows she and her son are safe, to the point where she tries to defend herself from a chainsaw with an umbrella. All I know is that Yasuko is not a woman to be screwed with, as she will fight with every fibre of her being and then some more for good measure.

Door is an underrated gem of a film, a home invasion thriller that reels you in and puts the fear of God into you. With a final act that throws everything it can at us. No notes, watch this immediately.


The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival runs from October 12th – 19th. For more information click here.

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